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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Deeper listening

After a general listening of “Hard Task,” there was no obvious “best take,” because the performances were so consistent. So the next step was to listen with greater focus and attention to detail.

I started by printing out some customized blank charts. At the top of each column, I scribbled “INST’ for instrumental section, “CH” for chorus, “V” for verse, etc. The rows were used for assessing each line. In this song, each section had 4 lines, 2 bars each.

As I listened to a take, I would fill in the boxes with either small checks (“okay”) big checks (“great”), question marks (doubtful, requiring more scrutiny), or X’s (errors). I went through all six takes this way.

My initial instincts were correct, and the last three takes were still the best under closer assessment. I focused again on the last three and listened even more carefully. Some “question marks” were actually fine—perhaps different than what I expected, and some errors were either not bad, or unexpected improvements. There was one phrase where I did an upsweep with my index finger and struck the “wrong” string. At the time I mentally registered it as a mistake (slightly annoyed!) but in playback it adds a unique brightness that I think is interesting.

The next task was marking the times for each section on the chart, which allowed me to compare certain crucial lines by bouncing back and forth between the three takes. This way I could appreciate subtle differences in delivery.

I narrowed my selection to the last two takes and sent mp4s to Jesse and Adam. They are likely to hear elements of the bass, drums, and overall rhythm that I may not.

Jane and I listened to the two tracks on another system and shared our perspectives. Enough for one day!

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